AMES –Jake Knott, meet immortality.
The senior made a play on Saturday that will live on in highlights forever.
Behind the incredible Knott, Iowa State beat the rival Hawkeyes, 9-6. The victory is the second win in a row for the Cyclones (2-0) in the series.
“Jake Knott made that kind of play in a series that will have him go down in history,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said.
With the Iowa State defense on its heels for the first time all day, Knott decided to win the football game. The linebacker leapt, tipped and intercepted a James Vandenberg pass when it looked like the Hawkeyes (1-1) were driving for the tying or potentially game-winning score.
The Waukee native won’t soon forget his heroics.
“When something like that happens, and you understand the rivalry, and you’ve been here and seen it, it’s kind of a dream come true almost,” Knott said.
With Iowa driving at the Cyclones’ 32 and less than 80 seconds on the clock, it appeared like Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz had a step on the defense. Knott made that advantage disappear. He batted the ball into the air and snagged the pick to set off a wild Iowa State celebration.
“It’s a tight window that the ball could have gone in,” Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg said. “At that point in the drive, I should have never been thinking about a small window.”
Knott’s interception capped a phenomenal day by the Cyclones’ defense. As the Iowa State offense sputtered, the defense answered the bell every time.
The Hawkeyes ran 70 plays for a total of 304 yards. That’s because the Cyclones’ front seven simply bullied Iowa up front.
“They rose up certainly time and time again,” Rhoads said. “There were a lot of big plays. There were a lot of individuals that were making third down stops. Whether it was break up passes or getting tackles, it was a great team defense. They played as 11 guys this afternoon.
The depth on the defensive line helped Iowa State control the line of scrimmage. Iowa finished the day with 68 yards rushing and averaged 2.4 yards per carry.
In the third quarter, the Hawkeyes threatened to take the lead when they had first and goal at the 3-yard line.
Not so fast.
As was the case all game, the Cyclones won the battle in the trenches and forced Iowa to kick a field goal to make the score 9-6.
“We decided to take a stand right there,” nose guard Jake McDonough said. “We put our foot in the ground and said we aren’t going to take it anymore and we’re not going to let them score.”
The stand, the pick, the dominance. When Iowa State needed them most, the defense played its best.
“I actually had a bet with (Coach) Wally Burnham before the game,” Knott said. “I said if we shut them out, can I cut your hair into a Mohawk?
“It’s the best of both worlds for him. He didn’t have to get a Mohawk and we held them to six points.”
Offense keeps Iowa in game
As well as the Cyclones’ defense played, the Iowa State offense probably won’t want to watch many highlights from Saturday.
After a stellar first quarter, the Cyclones went flat. Iowa State finished with 342 yards, but three red zone turnovers kept Iowa in the game. Score points on those trips inside the 20 and it’s a blowout.
“Their defense was really well coached,” said quarterback Steele Jantz, who finished 24-of-36 for 241 yards. “They were doing a lot of things with their line. In the second half they made adjustments and gave us different looks.”
One of those red zone miscues nearly proved deadly for the Cyclones. With Iowa State driving for the potentially game winning score, Jantz forced a pass over the middle that Iowa’s James Morris snared and took the other direction. Give Jantz credit though, he chased down the linebacker and tackled him to save a touchdown.
The defense took over from there. The Cyclones held Vanderberg to 20-of-42 passing for 236 yards. Damon Bullock, who rushed for 150 yards last week against Northern Illinois, notched just 53 yards on the ground.
When the Hawkeyes finally had it rolling on offense, Jake Knott silenced the Kinnick Stadium crowd, except of the thousands of Cardinal and Gold faithful in attendance.
On the state of Iowa’s biggest stage, Knott made the play he and Cyclone fans will never forget.